June 15, 2020

Boston Partners for Peace was founded to amplify the voices of peacemakers in Israel using various methods to promote coexistence between diverse communities and to support initiatives that promote the rights of Palestinians and Israel’s Arab-Israeli minority. As in America, many of these groups employ peaceful protests as a tactic for governmental pressure, combined with developmental programs on a local level. They also provide life-altering opportunities for Israelis and Palestinians to meet and understand one another’s perspectives and challenges. Many of these organizations combine these activities with political advocacy, encouraging voters to make themselves heard through exercising this right. Over the past week, we have witnessed powerful protests across the United States and in Israel demonstrating against injustice toward minorities in both countries. Protest movements are powerful ways of making our voices heard and getting the attention of leadership that can institute cha...

April 29, 2020

In this time of global uncertainty, people constantly in search of new ways to stay connected and share experiences across oceans. Over the course of the past few weeks, our Pathways to Peace learning series has introduced our community to Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders sharing their efforts to continue their work and aid vulnerable communities in this unprecedented time of social distancing. Many of these people are on the front lines, battling the virus and risking their own lives to help people in need. Recently, we were privileged to hear from one such hero, Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha.

A long-time activist on behalf of the Bedouin community, Dr. Fraiha founded the organization Rodaina to help reduce the rates of genetic diseases in the Bedouin community by offering pre-marital genetic testing. This is a widespread issue, as these communities are incredibly insular and they often marry within extended families. Due to the ongoing crisis, Dr. Fraiha’s priorities have shifted, and s...

March 25, 2020

Over the past several weeks, we witnessed the outbreak of COVID-19 and its devastating effects on communities around the world. Most of us have connected with our neighbors and friends over shared feelings of uncertainty, fear, and sympathy for those affected. During this time of isolation, Boston Partners for Peace is offering ways to interact across oceans and take action. This week, we launched the Pathways to Peace Learning Series, an ongoing series of opportunities to connect and access stories from Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders that unite and inspire us.

In Israel, NGO’s are struggling to stay connected with the communities they serve, to bring divided societies together, and to sustain themselves while prevented from international travel, which is essential for their awareness building and fundraising. We aim to build bridges between the struggles in Israeli and Palestinian societies and residents of Greater Boston looking for ways to help. We started our series this past...

March 20, 2020

This blog post was originally published by Hanan Schlesinger, founder of Roots and West Bank peace activist, on March 5, 2020. 

The joyous, sometimes boisterous, holiday of Purim is approaching. Twice during the holiday, Jews will publicly read the Book of Esther, in which Hebrew Scripture recounts the events of over 2,500 years ago that the celebration comes to commemorate. Haman the Agagite, a very high ranking official in the court of the Persian king, hatches a diabolical plot to exterminate all the Jews of the immense empire and then bribes the king to adopt the genocidal plan. All would have been lost if not for the ingenuity and courage of Queen Esther, who risks her life by simultaneously revealing herself as a Jew and confronting the evil Haman, thereby convincing the king to save the Jewish People from the evil decree.  Haman and his ten sons are hung, and the Jewish subjects of the Persian Empire are given free rein to wreak vengeance against their enemies, ultimately ki...

February 27, 2020

Over the past several months, we have watched an exhilarating and exhausting election season unfold in Israel and the United States. This coming Monday, March 2nd, Israelis will go to the polls to cast their votes in the third election within 12 months. We hope that this time the party leaders will be able to form a successful government and bring stability to the Israeli political theater.

In the last two elections, the right wing and left wing blocs did not receive enough votes to form a government on their own and each side’s parties were not willing to form a unity government. You may remember that Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, pledged that he would not form a coalition with the Likud party while Prime Minister Netanyahu is under indictment. Despite his legal issues, the Likud party had an internal primary in December and overwhelmingly chose Netanyahu to remain as party leader. Based on the polls, the results of this election should be very similar to the las...

February 12, 2020

This week, Jews around the world celebrated Tu’bishvat, also known as the “Jewish Arbor/Earth Day.” The holiday is meant to remind us of our connection to the earth and to our role as caretakers of the environment. Traditionally, Jews observe Tu’bishvat with a festive meal, and some modern practices include donating money to plant trees. Zionists who planted trees after the founding of Israel are said to have “made the desert bloom,” and the practice continues to today. Nature is miraculous, as recently shown through the work of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.  Researchers at the Institute planted a date palm from an ancient seed which has grown into a healthy tree they have aptly named “Methuselah.” Methuselah is a male tree that won’t bear fruit, but they are also beginning female trees and we might soon know what dates tasted like in ancient times.

Reviving ancient trees is only a small part of the work of the Arava Institute. At the Institute, Palestinians, Jordanians...

February 6, 2020

In the opening of his book, Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor, author Yossi Klein Halevi writes that “one of the main obstacles to peace is the inability to hear the other side’s story.” Over the course of 10 letters, Yossi attempts to convey the Israeli-Jewish narrative about Israel to an imagined Palestinian audience, in the hopes that they will listen and respond to his story. Many did, and the newest version of the book contains a selection of those Palestinian responses. When woven together, these letters start to reveal the Palestinian narrative, at times overlapping with the Jewish perspective and, more often, conflicting with it.

Starting next week on February 11th and 12th, over 30 young adults will meet in various locations across Greater Boston to discuss the book, share their perspectives on the conflict, and reflect with one another. Over the course of the book club, they will discuss the book, meet with a Palestinian to gain a firsthand perspective, and come together for...

January 23, 2020

This blog post was originally published on October 18, 2018. We are reposting it in advance of our upcoming event with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on February 6, 2020. We hope you will join us to meet two recent alumni, Shira Fisch of Moshav Yaad (Arava Institute ’19) and Mohammed Jarrad of Tulkarem (Arava Institute ’17) as they discuss their experiences and the impact of those experiences. 

When many of us think about our future, we think about how climate change will have a significant impact on our lives.  The Paris Climate Accord signed in 2015 was groundbreaking in its stipulation that every country has a collective responsibility to protect the earth and adopt measures to minimize climate change.  Even so, the agreed-upon goals fail to adequately address the negative effects in the coming decades. Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report written by 90 scientists with a dire warning for the future of planet earth. They believe tha...

January 10, 2020

Throughout their history, peacebuilding efforts have primarily focused on promoting equity and diversity of voices between Israelis and Palestinians. More recently, there has been a call for diversity of involvement within these movements across demographics, specifically age (the next generation) and gender (women’s involvement). Considering that women account for 50% of the population, their influence over decisions that might affect their lives should reflect their presence in society. This week, I want to highlight the work of two movements that have been formed, both in Israel and the US, to provide women with opportunities to have their voices heard in the peacebuilding landscape. Both initiatives were inspired by UN Resolution 1325, which aims to “ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels… for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.”

When I was in Israel this past December with JCRC’s Study Tour for Civic Leaders, we were fortunate to...

December 27, 2019

I recently returned from Israel with the JCRC Study Tour in Israel for Civic Leaders, where State Senators from the Massachusetts Legislature participated in an in-depth 10-day tour of Israel. Our trip came at a politically salient time for Israel, as an unprecedented third round of elections were being organized. It was a historic moment in Israel’s history, to say the least. Following these events, we framed our learning around the potential consequences. What would a peaceful future for Israel look like under potential new leadership? What were the issues most important to Israeli voters and how were they being mobilized? Who were the citizens and non-citizens that make-up the diverse population of Israel and the Palestinian territories? Throughout the week we received clarity on these issues, and I was privileged to obtain even more insight upon my return.

Crucial to understanding the complexity of Israel were our meetings with grassroots organizations doing people-to-people wo...

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